Holiday tailbacks warning over new biometric border checks at Dover

Holiday tailbacks warning over new biometric border checks at Dover
Holidaymakers driving to the Continent face travel chaos unless a deal is reached with the European Union over new Brexit checks, the Dover port boss has warned.

Doug Bannister, CEO of the Port of Dover, said tourists should be prepared for “significant” queues when new rules come into effect in the autumn.

At present, travellers crossing the border can simply have their passports checked and stamped by border guards through their vehicle window, keeping traffic moving swiftly.

But from October, people driving to the EU from the UK will need to provide biometric data that will likely involve body or facial scanning. As it stands, the new entry-exit system will require every car and lorry passenger to get out of their vehicle for the checks, meaning border crossings will take considerably longer.

This is likely to cause lengthy queues unless the EU clarifies the details of the policy and how strict the checks need to be, Mr Bannister said.

Although discussions about how the new system will work are taking place between the British and French governments, Mr Bannister warned that no new infrastructure or technology has yet been put into place at the port. He urged ministers to seek a deal with Brussels that could make the checks less intrusive.

Mr Bannister told the Daily Mail: “We have nine months to design a process to identify and implement technology and come up with a regulation that works, and invest in any infrastructure and other investments that we need to. It feels a very short period of time to get that all done.

“It probably could get done, but what needs to unlock is the UK government speaking directly with French counterparts and wider in the European Union about how we're going to create a solution for this. If there isn't a solution, we could well wind up having significant queues for both tourists and freight.”

Mr Bannister also warned that the new checks could risk the safety of travellers as they may have to get out of their cars at night.

“There's no solution, no process, nothing that's been designed for a car load of people going through a busy ferry terminal on a dark night,” he continued.

“Given the constant motion of this port and how busy it is, with trucks and caravans and coaches and cars, motorcycles, bicycles, we just can't have people get out of their car, because that would be highly dangerous.”

The Government said it will work constructively with its European partners to find a solution.

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